In December 2021, we ran a competition with DJI where we asked local filmmakers to pay homage to the historic “oners” of cinema by creating their own “One Take Wonder” production, captured in a single continuous take. While we were awed by the sheer talent of many entrants, one submission stood out to everyone in our judging panel: the short film “Break-In”, created by local director Marlon Du Plooy.

We caught up with Marlon post-competition to find out more about his creative journey to date and unpack some of his biggest cinematic inspirations and influences.

Watch the BTS of “Break-In” here. Learn more about the competition brief here.

Orms Connect: Tell us about your creative beginnings! Where did your passion for directing and video creation originate from? Did it start at a young age or find you later in life?

Marlon Du Plooy:

My love for movies started at the age of 2 years old. Every weekend I was in the cinema. I would return home after each movie and act out the entire film from start to finish to my parents. I would then go around telling everyone my dream was to become an actor. But that dream was short-lived when I started experiencing intense bullying in primary school. This resulted in me changing schools and completely shattered my self-confidence. I became a shy and withdrawn person from that point on. This destroyed my hopes of ever becoming an actor.  

On my 11th birthday, my parents bought me my very first camera. This was where my love for directing and filmmaking started. My cousins and I would shoot our own videos and homemade movies in our backyard. We had no editing equipment so all the editing was done in camera as we filmed. I never felt more alive in my life while being behind the camera and creating stories. I knew this was my calling and my gift. But how can a shy, introverted person possibly become a film director?

Well, from Grade 10-12, I wrote, directed and acted in numerous school productions in which I won awards for Best Director, Best Script, Best Play and Most Innovative Actor. Every achievement has lead to my ultimate dream of becoming a great film director. 

I eventually went to film school to purse my dream further. 

Orms Connect: You’ve mentioned before that you went to film school. Where did you study and what was the most valuable lesson you learnt there? Would you recommend attending film school to all aspiring video creators?

Marlon Du Plooy:

In 2011 I started studying “Film and Television Production Techniques” at CityVarsity in Cape Town for a 3 Year Course.

Walking into film school, I most certainly underestimated the sheer amount of stress I would endure over the course of 3 years. The amount of continuous hard work you have to keep putting in is truly an understatement.

But the most valuable lesson I learnt was the importance of “TEAMWORK”.  A successful film is the result of a passionate and hard working team. 

I would recommend film school to anyone that wants to work full time in the film industry. It gives you the tools you will need to navigate yourself through this intense and demanding career.  The only downfall here is that film school is really expensive and not everyone can afford to go. So best alternative in this case would be to intern and gain knowledge on as many productions you can find yourself on and hopefully find your footing.  

If you are a video creator solely for YouTube and Instagram, then film school is definitely not needed. Film school is more for industry heavy job titles.

Not everyone is meant to be successful in this industry. You really need to have the passion and drive to navigate this demanding industry. 

Orms Connect: You recently won our “One Take Wonder” Competition with DJI. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about your one-take short film, “Break-In”, and what the process of creating it was like? What were some of the challenges?

Marlon Du Plooy:

I found out about the competition 1 week before the closing date. I scouted the uploaded entries and knew I had to get back to my directing roots if I wanted to take the prize. 

I wrote a total of 5 different scripts but felt they were too complicated to pull off. I filmed a pre-visualization for one of the films but scrapped the idea immediately after. I went back to the drawing board and wrote a story around everything I had at my disposal because time was of the essence. 

I finished the script for “Break-In” four days before the deadline. Pulled together the actors and location but could only shoot two days before the deadline due to the main actor (Clayton Evertson) being on another production. 

But the main challenge we faced was trying to shoot a film that takes place at night all before a 9pm lockdown curfew.  At 5pm I did the first walkthrough with all the actors present. At 8pm we were ready to shoot just as the sun finished setting.  We did a number of 3 takes all lasting about 10 min each. We wrapped just before curfew. I must add also, it was really tricky to shoot in the midst of a pandemic. 

My brother (Keaton Du Plooy), pulled an all nighter in post-production and finished editing the film. 

Woke up the next morning and “Break-in” was born.

Orms Connect: If you could build your dream camera kit for video shooting, what would it contain?

Marlon Du Plooy:

  • RED- KOMODO 6K camera
  • Canon EF CN-E Cinema Prime 7-lens Kit (14, 20, 24, 35, 50, 85, 135mm) 
  • GVM 800D-RGB LED Studio Kit
  • DJI Ronin RS2
  • Director’s Monitor

Orms Connect: From both local talents to international legends, which creators in your industry do you find inspiring and why?

Marlon Du Plooy:

My top international film directors are…

  • Michael Bay: His fast paced, insane action films. My guilty pleasure films. 
  • Martin Scorsese: He directed my all time favourite movie, “The Wolf Of Wall Street” amongst many others. His style of storytelling is truly crude and unique. 
  • Steven Spielberg: The OG of Blockbuster films. Directed some of my favorite action and adventure films. 

South African filmmaker Daryne Joshua has taken the Number 1 spot has my favourite South African director. Films he has done include “Noem My Skollie”, “Nommer 37” and “The Ellen Pakkies Story”. 

Daryne Joshua truly has a unique and captivating way of how he has brought the stories needs to be told to light. Truly inspiring!

You can keep up with Marlon on his Instagram.

Categories: Cinematography